Writer: Paul Wallis
Date:Thursday February 4 2010
TIME BEGINNING TO RUN OUT
Another winless game on Monday night. Dull, lifeless, lack of confidence from the players..exactly what we didn't need when under massive pressure to win our home games. The draw against Stoke was a depressing night for all SAFC followers. I doubt we'd have scored if we were still playing now such was the lack of invention throughout the side. Whilst Lee Cattermole and Lorik Cana are effective at keeping the midfield tight and getting back to defend, going forward they are offer little. Even more importantly, the lack of width, an ever present problem at the club, doesn't look like improving anytime soon. Hopefully the arrival of Alan Hutton at full back can help improve this. On a positive note, the defending was much better with Michael Turner back in the team. Turner & Matt Kilgallon showed signs of a promising partnership to come in central defence. It's crucial that we get a more settled back four. If Hutton plays at the weekend, it will be our 15th new back four in 24 games. That's an incredible stat and just shows the problems we've had with injuries this season.
With our winnable home games beginning to run out, this Saturday's Wigan game assumes monumental proportions for the remainder of our season. Fail to win again and we are entrenched in our third relegation battle in as many seasons, which is devastating for our fans after the early promise. Wigan have been on a bad run of late, culminating in a home defeat to Notts County in the FA Cup. The danger sign is there though, we lost to them at the DW Stadium after they had lost 9-1 at Spurs. Alan Hutton & Benjani will both be involved for us, so that should give the squad a boost and a struggling Wigan side should be less of a physical battle than Stoke were. I'd play an unchanged team, apart from maybe Hutton in for an injured Mensah, with Benjani on the bench to call upon. New boy Hutton up against Charles N'Zogbia should be a very interesting battle down the right side. My extreme pessimism of last week has somehow been replaced with a highly optimistic outlook this week. First win since November anyone?
Prediction: SAFC 2 Wigan 1
TERRY MUST PLAY
As much as I dislike John Terry, he simply must continue playing for England in the World Cup. He is easily our best and most consistent current centre half and he would be a huge miss. His personal life should stay private and away from the football field. Whether Terry should keep his captaincy is another matter. There are plenty of candidates for the armband throughout the England team and maybe it would be a good idea to pass it on to someone else, even if just to relieve some of the pressure on Terry.
WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
I've kicked off a debate on Twitter this week on which four (or five?) strikers would you take to the World Cup if you were in Fabio's shoes. Jermaine Defoe grabbed another hat-trick in midweek making him almost certain to be going to South Africa alongside Wayne Rooney. Has Darren Bent done enough? For me he stands alongside Defoe as England's most lethal finisher at the moment with possibly Defoe just edging him out of an England starting place. Who else would you choose? I'd go for Rooney, Defoe, Bent & Crouch with either Heskey or Agbonlahor as a 5th striker if Capello feels he needs another striker.
MAGS SENSING BLOOD
The feeling over here on Tyneside amongst the black & whites is of excitement building. They are starting to sense that promotion is getting closer for them, whilst relegation nears for us. After last seasons magnificent final day events this time we could face the ultimate reversal. Can you imagine what it would be like if it happened and the flak we would get? It doesn't really bear thinking about at the moment, but it is fast becoming a real possibility.
Thats all for now,
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Date:Thursday February 4 2010
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